LANSING, Mich. March 15, 2024 — State Rep. Phil Skaggs (D-East Grand Rapids) announced today the introduction of HB 5594 — legislation aimed at reforming youth work permits in Michigan. The bill seeks to address existing gaps in the current system that hinder the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s (LEO) ability to protect minors from labor exploitation.

“This legislation is a critical step toward improving oversight of child labor in Michigan,” Skaggs said. “By modernizing the work permit system, we can better protect young workers and ensure they are safe from exploitation.”

Under the current system, minors seeking a work permit must obtain one from their school, complete the necessary paperwork, obtain signatures from their employer and parents, and then submit the completed form to their high school. However, youth work permit information is not routinely shared with LEO, the agency responsible for overseeing child labor laws in Michigan, until after a violation has occurred.

Skaggs’ bill proposes a new system that requires minors to file their work permits with LEO through a centralized electronic database. This database would allow LEO to proactively monitor the number of minors working in the state and their work locations in order to better enforce the Youth Employment Standards Act. A copy of the work permit would still be provided to the minor’s school.

The proposed legislation aims to increase oversight of employers hiring minors. There have been several recent incidents of child labor violations in Michigan, including a child losing a hand in a meat grinder[1] and another child falling from a roof and becoming paralyzed[2]. These incidents highlight the need for better tracking and enforcement of child labor laws.

“I am proud to have worked with LEO and other stakeholders to craft this legislation,” Skaggs continued. “I believe that by working together, we can ensure that Michigan’s children are safe and protected in the workplace.”